Abbatoirs & Knackery
The Abattoirs Act provides for the licensing of abattoirs and knackeries and, in particular, provides veterinary and hygiene controls. An abattoir is any premises used to slaughter animals whose meat is intended for human consumption. It includes a slaughterhouse but not a place on a farm other than as specified used for the occasional slaughter of a pig or animal injured by accident which is necessary to prevent suffering.
A knackery is any premises used in connection with the collection, delivery, supply, slaughter, storage, skinning, or cutting up of animals or parts of animals intended for consumption and includes:
- Premises used as a knackers yard;
- Cutting up dead animals for sale as dog or pet food;
- Kennels where dead animals are fed to hounds;
- Dead Animal collection depot;
- Hide removal.
The legislation does not apply to premises licensed under the Pigs and Bacon Act or the Fresh Meat Regulations. It also does not apply to other premises licensed under local legislation, particularly the Public Health Act.
The legislation requires that premises may not be used as an abattoir without an abattoir’s licence. Abattoirs licences are annual and are granted by the Department of Agriculture. The licensing function may be transferred to local or other health authorities.
The fees are payable and the forms are provided in connection with the application for the licence.
A licence may only be granted:
- To a person who is a fit and proper person;
- Who complies with slaughter of Animal Act and provisions thereunder.
The abattoir licence may contain conditions. A register of abattoir licences is provided for. The licence is not transferable.
Revocation & Refusal
Where a licence is refused there are provisions for notification of the applicant. There is also notification of the time limit in which an appeal may be made.
The minister has powers to revoke licences under certain circumstances including if it has been obtained by fraud or there is contravention of the Act. Before revocation notice of the proposed revocation must be sent.
In the case of refusal of the grant renewal or revocation of an abattoir licence the person concerned may apply to the Circuit Court within 21 days. The Circuit Court on hearing the application may if it appears just and proper dismiss the appeal, allow the cost grant or renew the licence.
If special circumstances exist the Department may in lieu of granting a licence grant an abattoir permit on such conditions as may be specified. The permit may be renewed and is subject to certain conditions.
Abattoir licences may be suspended where:
- There is a grave and immediate danger to public health;
- Food is not fit for human consumption.
An authorised officer may require immediate closure and cessation of slaughter on a premises.
Local Authority Provided
Local authorities may provide public abattoirs. The minister may make provisions and regulations in relation to abattoirs including:
- Manner of an assembly, rest and the strength of animals;
- Washing and disinfection of vehicles used for the transport of animals;
- The time at which slaughterings may take place;
- Manner of slaughtering, dressing, hanging, cooling, packing, storing, cutting, processing, weighing;
- Retention, identification, presentation for the purpose of inspection of veterinary inspector of carcasses, offals, etc;
- Hygiene and health;
- Storage and disposal of waste products.
There are parallel provisions in respect of a knackery licence. Similar provisions apply.
A person may not sell offal or expose for sale or have his possession for human consumption any part of animal or meat or other product which is to be slaughtered or cut up or delivered in a knackery. A premises may not be used as a knackery without a knackery license.
The parallel provisions apply in respect of application for the license, grant, refusal, renewal, etc. A register of knackery licences is kept. There is provision for appeal to the Circuit Court in respect of any suspension, revocation, refusal, etc. of the license.
There are similar provisions in relation by which regulations may be made in relation to hygiene, proper management, control and sale for non-human consumption of products, record keeping, etc.
The health authorities must appoint a veterinary inspector to carry out inspections and functions under the legislation.
Veterinary inspectors may be allocated to one or more abattoirs within the area. The veterinary inspector may test as it considers necessary and remove samples. He may enter and inspect an abattoir and knackery at all times for the purpose of carrying out its functions.
Regulations may be made by the minister for the purpose of establishing the fitness of meat or human consumption. In particular it may provide for:
- Ante mortem examination by a veterinary inspector of animal intended for slaughter;
- Grounds by which a animal may not be passed;
- Post mortem examination;
- Grounds by which food may be declared unfit for human consumption;
- Marking, storage instructions and disposal of meat found to be unfit;
- Test methods and standards required for determining fitness.
The minister may prescribe health marks be applied to meat by a veterinary inspector and the manner in which it is consigned in packages from abattoirs must be identified and labelled.
Regulations may provide for the form and design of materials using a sampling instrument for the application of the health mark, marking substances, manner in which applied, places on the meat where it is to be applied.
The person shall not sell or supply meat for human consumption or incorporation in human consumption unless it bears a health mark in accordance with either the fresh meat legislation, Pigs and Bacon Act or EU legislation. There are provisions for fees payable in respect of animals slaughtered.
Authorised officers have powers under the legislation. They may be accompanied by An Garda Siochana. They may enter any premises by force if necessary being used as an abattoir or knackery. It may inspect by force any
The holder of a licence under the Act must keep records of all animals slaughtered and handled in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Department. The health authorities are obliged to make returns to the Department of Agriculture.